The future is something we all think about and sometimes it is necessary to think about what you want in life and the choices you need to make to get there. What isn’t helpful though, is worrying too much about the future to the point where it negatively impacts your mental health.

Instead of worrying about sticking to your life plans, and dwelling on the goals you didn’t reach, perhaps you should try focusing on how far you have come instead. Make plans for your future but be kind to yourself and don’t put too much pressure on yourself because of your expectations.

As we are coming into a new year and people start to make new plans for their future and new year resolution, I wanted to offer a tip that has helped me greatly:

Don’t set new year goals.. do end of year achievements instead.

I used to set a bunch of relatively realistic achievements of what I’d like to achieve in the next year but by the end of the year there would be so many things that I didn’t achieve and instead of focusing on the few things that I did manage to achieve I would get hyper focused on the things I did not achieve, and they were things I genuinely believed I would be able to do. 

In the end I made a decision to stop formally setting goals and achievements and instead, wait until the end of the year/start of the new year to reflect on what I did achieve over the year and compare it to previous years to see how far I’ve come, even if it’s just a little bit. I end up realising that I’ve achieved more now than before. Instead of writing that list of things you want to achieve in 2022, let’s look back on what you’ve achieved in 2021 instead. You lived and survived through a global pandemic, that’s a big deal! Maybe you didn’t do and achieve all that you wanted to but you made it to 2022, you’re still here and even if you’ve only achieved a couple of small things, that is worth celebrating. 

Another tip I have is to not compare yourself to others. Everyone is on a different journey and going at their own pace. It’s important to do what is best for you at the time. Even if that means taking a step back from your goals to focus on yourself. Learning to put yourself first is an achievement in itself.

Remember, things people might not see as  achievements such as working on your mental health is actually a HUGE achievement. Academics and Careers aren’t the only things that count as a big thing to be proud of. Building strong, healthy friendships is an achievement, putting yourself first for once is an achievement, working on your mental health and healing from your bad experiences are achievements.

So, maybe your New Year’s resolution should be to be less hard on yourself and focus on the good things you have achieved and what you have gained over the last year or two. Then we wait until 2022 comes to an end, and reflect on what we have gained over this year to come. Until then, we keep on living our lives without the added pressure of our goals.